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NBA Draft: Nick Whalen's Post-Lottery Mock Draft

Nick Whalen

RotoWire's NBA Editor and award winning host of the RotoWire NBA Podcast. Many years ago, Stromile Swift gave Nick his unbelievably sweaty headband after a preseason game. Despite its failure to match his school colors, Nick went on to wear that headband for the entirety of his sixth grade basketball season. Catch Nick on Twitter @wha1en.

1. Boston Celtics (via Nets)


Markelle Fultz, G, Washington

In most drafts, Fultz would be a complete no-brainer at No. 1. That's not to say he's not the heavy favorite, but the fact that cases can be made for two or three other players speaks to the depth of this draft. Selecting Fultz would force Boston into an extremely difficult position regarding the long-term future of Isaiah Thomas, but Thomas is still under contract through next season, and the Celtics don't have another glaring need.

2. Los Angeles Lakers


Lonzo Ball, G, UCLA

One of the more unique, elite prospects in recent memory -- both on and off the court -- Ball is an advanced offensive talent for his age and was easily the best passer in college basketball last season. Some teams might think twice about the burden selecting Ball might entail, but his father has explicitly stated that Los Angeles is the family's preferred destination. By all accounts, the Lakers will be more than happy to oblige if Ball is available.

3. Philadelphia 76ers


Josh Jackson, F, Kansas

An athletic wing who plays hard on both ends, Jackson would go No. 1 in more than one draft in the last decade. While he improved in the second half of the season, his shot still needs some work, and the fact that he'll turn 21 just before the All-Star break isn't ideal. Even so, given his combination of athleticism, length and motor, Jackson's ceiling is as high as any prospect's in this draft. The 76ers would love to get their hands on Fultz, but with Ben Simmons apparently set to take the reins at point guard, Jackson would be a perfect long-term fit on the wing next to Dario Saric.

4. Phoenix Suns


Jayson Tatum, F, Duke

Tatum could certainly be in play for Philadelphia at three, but after falling down a spot on lottery night, the Suns will happily take the most offensively polished forward in the draft. While he's not as strong defensively as Jackson, Tatum is a better shooter and one-on-scorer, and he's more than a full year younger. Tatum wouldn't be an immediate franchise-changer, but he has a Paul George-like ceiling. Trading Eric Bledsoe and going with a point guard is absolutely in play, but the Suns could do much worse than entering next season with a young core of Tatum, Bledsoe, Devin Booker, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender, and Alex Len.



5. Sacramento Kings


De'Aaron Fox, G, Kentucky

The Kings have needs all over, and the point guard position is no exception. Fox is the best defensive guard in the draft, and he's quick and explosive enough to make up for what's currently a very shaky outside shot. Fox could struggle to adjust if defenders sag off and dare him to shoot, so extending his range will be priority No. 1.

6. Orlando Magic


Jonathan Isaac, F, Florida State

The Magic have been stuck stuck between attempting to contend and attempting to rebuild since Dwight Howard left. Isaac will take some time to develop, but 6'10" players with smooth touch and fluid athleticism typically aren't available at the sixth pick. The freshman carries some bust potential - he was inconsistent, at times, last season - but at the very least he projects as a versatile defender who can guard three or four positions.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves


Dennis Smith, G, NC State

With Jackson, Tatum and Isaac all off the board, Minnesota goes with a point guard for the second straight year. The Wolves already have Kris Dunn and Ricky Rubio, but Dunn was disappointing as a rookie, while Rubio has been the subject of trade rumors for the past two-plus years. Smith would immediately be the best athlete of the three with unquestionably the highest upside, but the Wolves, who wanted to be a playoff team this season, aren't necessarily in a position to be patient with his development.



8. New York Knicks


Frank Ntilikina, G, International

The Knicks hit it big with an international prospect two years ago, and they'll look to do the same with Ntilikina. At this stage, it's difficult to gauge Ntilikina's stock -- he could end up a few spots higher or lower, depending on workouts/interviews -- but the Knicks could certainly use a young point guard to develop, even if they bring back Derrick Rose.

9. Dallas Mavericks


Zach Collins, F/C, Gonzaga

The first one-and-done in Gonzaga history, Collins played just over 17 minutes per game last season but was one of the best per-minute producers in the country. Collins finishes well at the rim, is excellent at drawing contact, and his shooting range extends beyond the three-point line. Defensively, he'll have to get stronger, but he's already a physical rebounder and very good shot-blocker for his age, despite a relatively unremarkable wingspan (7'1"). Those are all areas in which Dallas desperately needs to improve after finishing dead last in rebounds, blocks and free throw attempts per game last season. Dirk Nowitzki is going to occupy minutes in the Mavs frontcourt for as long as he likes, but Collins and Nerlens Noel would make for an appealing tandem in the long term.

10. Sacramento Kings (via New Orleans)


Malik Monk, G, Kentucky

After grabbing Fox at five and bringing in Vivek Ranadive's long-lost son Buddy Hield via trade, taking Monk admittedly doesn't make much sense. But let's remember who we're dealing with here. From a pure entertainment perspective, reuniting Fox and Monk is the ideal scenario, and it's completely plausible that the Kings could talk themselves into one of two things: shifting Hield to the three, or using Monk as a playmaking sixth man -- the second of which might not be such a bad idea.

11. Charlotte Hornets


Lauri Markkanen, F, Arizona

Questions about Markkanen's ability to rebound and defend at the next level are very real. He'll likely improve in those areas, but any team selecting Markkanen will do so with the knowledge that he's an offense-first player who will need to be hid on defense, at least initially. Despite being 7'0", Markkanen doesn't protect the rim, and while he moves well for his size, lateral quickness is an issue. All that said, 7-footers who shoot 42 percent from three aren't easy to come by.

12. Detroit Pistons


Donovan Mitchell, G, Louisville

The Pistons would love for Ntilikina or Smith to fall to 12, and they could be among several teams looking to move up on draft night. Assuming that doesn't happen and the elite point guards are off the board, Detroit goes with the type of athletic, two-way guard Stan Van Gundy covets. A natural two-guard, the 6'3" Mitchell may be asked to play the point at the pro level. Regardless, he has a lead guard mentality, and possesses the length (6'10" wingspan) and athleticism (40.5" max vertical) to defend both backcourt spots.



13. Denver Nuggets


John Collins, F, Wake Forest

The Nuggets already have talent in the frontcourt, but much of that lies on the wing, and Collins would represent a bigger, more physical scorer to complement Nikola Jokic. Collins is still developing his offensive arsenal, but he's an excellent athlete (37.5" max vertical) who rebounds his position and draws fouls. Defensively, he'll probably never be more than an average rim-protector, but the physical tools are there.

14. Miami Heat


Jarrett Allen, C, Texas

The Heat's rag-tag roster of cast-offs and former D-Leaguers is wing and guard-heavy, and Miami could use an athletic, young big man to groom alongside Hassan Whiteside. Allen is raw and didn't always play hard last season, but he's a physical specimen -- 7'5.25" wingspan, 35.5" max vertical -- and is further along as a passer than his pedestrian assist numbers would indicate.



For another take on the lottery, read James Anderson's latest mock draft.